By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Multiple agencies responded to a 16-inch water main break at 16040 Sunset Boulevard that caused major flooding in the area beginning Sunday evening, March 28, around 7:40 p.m.
“LAFD is responding to a large water flow near Sunset and Muskingum Avenue affecting multiple apartment complexes,” Los Angeles Fire Department Spokesperson Nicholas Prange reported in an alert. “Firefighters are working to mitigate the flooding and reduce the chance for injury/life hazard.”
LADWP reported the agency was notified of the break at 8:20 p.m. Sunday evening, which was a cast-iron main installed in 1939.
The break and ensuing water flow caused a full road closure on Sunset Boulevard between Muskingum and El Medio avenues.
Assisting agencies included Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Department of Transportation, Los Angeles Police Department and LA County Lifeguards, who searched “deep water in a below-grade parking level to make sure no one was stranded in a submerged vehicle.”
According to LAFD, one uninjured person was rescued from the water.
Gray McCarty, who has only lived in the area for about two months, said that just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening, he was sitting in the courtyard area of his building when he noticed the sound of water. Not being overly familiar with the noises of the building, he said he assumed it was normal—until a neighbor informed him of the situation.
“No one was on the scene at that point,” McCarty recalled, saying that seeing the amount of water, he immediately called 911. “I felt like I was in a movie, it was wild, it was really crazy,” pointing out that he watched people try to cross the water, including firefighters, who were falling down due to the water flow.
McCarty said that his building sits on an incline, so it was spared damage, but his unit overlooks a neighboring apartment complex’s laundry room, which he said had water halfway up the wall with washers and dryers floating in the room.
McCarty reported the water continued to gush for about four to five hours before slowing to a trickle.
Prange reported that only one apartment building had reported damage. LAFD remained on the scene for several hours to assist with pumping water out from the parking garage, as well as dewatering apartment units.
According to LADWP, service to three multi-family buildings was affected, but no residents were displaced over the course of the evening.
“Rather than evacuating residents, firefighters made the decision to shelter in place, as the parking garage was the most affected area,” Prange reported.
Cantor Chayim Frenkel, who has been involved with Kehillat Israel for more than 35 years, shared with the Palisadian-Post that he was having a Passover Seder at the home of a member of the congregation when one of the attendees received a news alert about the water main break.
He rushed over to the scene—which is near where KI is located—and assessed the situation.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Frenkel said, adding that he saw large chunks of the gravel from the road displaced 20 to 30 yards away from where the break appeared to be.
Frenkel expressed gratitude to the community, with many neighbors showing their selflessness to help out in a moment of need, as well as the Los Angeles Fire Department. He explained that KI was not impacted by the water flow, which he shared was especially good news, as the basement level harbors the organization’s nursery school.
Local resident Bruce Lurie, who owns a fine art gallery in the Village area, shared that he had driven his car into his garage when he heard a flood of rushing water passing through the alleyway. He quickly moved his car onto the street and approached his building, which he said had about four to five inches of water in front of it.
He said that before the fire department arrived on scene and the street was closed, he waved at cars, flagging them to slow down before hitting the flooded area.
Lurie reported that the laundry room of his building, where he has been a resident for seven years, was flooded.
“They turned off the water completely in my building,” he explained. “I thought for sure at any moment the fire department would have us leave.”
Echoing Frenkel’s sentiments, Lurie also expressed kudos to the fire department, which he said “did a really great job.”
Work continued overnight, with LADWP reporting that water service was restored at 1:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon and Sunset Boulevard reopened at 8:30 p.m.
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